Probate court to decide if Florida shooter is rich or broke

| Apr 18, 2018 | Probate & Trust Administration

A little more than two months ago, Florida and the nation were shocked and saddened by the senseless murders of 17 people in a shooting at a Parkland high school. The shooter’s public defender recently said in a hearing that Nikolas Cruz could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars inherited from his late mother.

The attorney asked the court to wait to decide if taxpayers should be billed for his defense until probate has been completed. Both Cruz and his mother’s estate face multiple legal claims that complicate the question of whether or not he is indigent and eligible for a tax-funded defense.

The attorney recently told the court that Cruz has one or two annuities, but that he doesn’t have access to the money. It’s also unclear how frequently money from the annuity is deposited in his bank account.

It’s possible that Cruz and his brother have as much as $1 million in their accounts, the lawyer said. If that is the case, Cruz would be financially capable of footing the bill for his defense.

The Broward County probate court will determine how money is split between Nikolas Cruz and his brother, Zachary.

The man accused of gunning down students and faculty at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 has several assets, including Microsoft stock and a bank account that had more than $12,000 in it as recently as October. Cruz also has a $25,000 life insurance check, but has been unable to gain access to it.

The judge in the indigence case said she will decide by late April.

Cruz reportedly confessed to the killings shortly after his arrest. The defense team concedes that he is guilty and says he is willing to plead in exchange for a series of life sentences.